Saturday, May 29, 2010

Jose Abreu on kids transformed by music

By Evan T.

In this TED talk, Jose Abreu talks about his music program El Sistema, and what it has done for the poorer children of Venezuela and how music is so important in the life of a child.

Jose Abreu starts off by telling how he is overjoyed that he has been awarded the TED prize. He then begins talking about how in his childhood, he always wanted to be a musician and that he thanks God that he did make it as one. He had all the necessary support from his teachers, family, and his community; and that all of his life he has hoped that all children in Venezuela have the opportunity that he had. It was from that desire that the idea for the program and to make music a deep and global reality for the children of his country came from.

Jose then tells about the first rehearsal, and how he saw the bright future ahead because of the challenge that it meant for him. At the first rehearsal he had received a donation of 50 music stands to be used by 100 boys, but when he arrived only 11 children had shown up. At that moment Jose thought to himself whether he should close the program or multiply these kids, and he decided to face the challenge. He made a promise to those kids to turn their orchestra into one of the leading orchestras in the world. Jose remembered that promise when he read an article mentioning four great world orchestras and the fifth was the Venezuela’s youth Symphony Orchestra, which meant that art in Latin America is no longer a monopoly of elites and that it has become a right for all people. The talk then gives a clip of a member of the Orchestra saying that in this program there is no difference between classes and that the only things that matter are that if you have talent and vocation.

Abreu then talks about how he has seen in the recent tours, how their music has moved the audiences greatly, and how the public would greet the people in triumph and that it has been an artistic triumph and an emotional symphony between the public of the most advanced nations of the world and the musical youth of Latin America.

Jose then talks about how El Sistema helps kids improve their lives and who they are. Jose talks about how the orchestra and choir teach more than just learning artistic structure and they also are a place where kids can learn how to be more social. A quote I liked that Jose said was, “to sing and to play together means to intimately coexist toward perfection and excellence.” He then talks about how it helps your self-esteem, which I agree with because I have noticed it in myself when I play in music class or when I jam with my friends; it helps you get rid of the nervousness you get around others, because each practice you have to play your instrument in front of everyone in the class, or when I am jamming with friends, I have to get over what they might think of my playing in order to play good music. I also agree with what he then says about music being important in the forging of values in the children, because I know from experience that from when I first started getting really into music to now, I would say I have better values than I did before.

Jose Abreu talks now about how each teenager and child in El Sistema has their own story, and particularly talks about two kids named Edicson Ruiz and Gustavo Dudamel. Edicson Ruiz came from a parish in Caracas. He was passionate about music and taking his double bass lessons at the San Agustin’s Junior Orchestra. Edicson had full support from his family and community and became an important member of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Gustavo started as a young member of the children’s orchestra in his hometown and grew as a violinist and conductor, and today he conducted the finest orchestras in the world. “He’s an unbeatable example for the young musicians of Latin America and the world,” says Jose.

Jose then goes on to talk about how El Sistema teaches the children to be a role model for even their parents. This is very important, because if the child realizes they are important to the family, they want to improve themselves and their community, which is a great thing. Also, when kids become good at something, in this case playing an instrument, they want to be better at other things, and help others get better and embrace their dreams and goals.

One thing that I disagree with that Jose goes on to talk about and say is; “only art and religion can give proper answers to humanity.” I don’t agree with this because of the part about religion, because religion is the worst tool to use when seeking answers to humanity in my opinion because with the amount of beliefs in the world today, you can never know which is true or if any of them are true.

Jose Abreu finishes his talk off with another thank you and showing of his appreciation to TED for being awarded the TED prize. The talk then goes live to Caracas to get Jose Abreu’s TED prize wish. Jose Abreu said, “I wish that you help to create and document a special training program for 50 gifted young musicians passionate about their art and social justice and dedicated to bringing El Sistema to the United States and other countries.”

Jose Abreu was a very good speaker, despite the language difference and that I had to watch the subtitles, I could hear that he spoke with emotion and showed passion for what he was talking about. Also, throughout the talk Jose uses great hand gestures which were effective in showing his passion for what he has done.

In conclusion, I think that what Jose Abreu has done and is doing with El Sistema is wonderful and I hope his TED wish comes true.

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